When I was in high school, I took a philosophy class in my junior year, right around when I began to take my faith in Christ seriously. Honestly, while I don’t remember all too much from it, the one thing that always stuck to me was Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Maybe it’s because we watched the movie “The Truman Show” afterwards, which gives us a modern day depiction of one of the themes found in the Allegory of the Cave.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s an allegory written by the philosopher Plato in which there are imprisoned men in a dark cave. The prisoners have been there from childhood, and are taught things through the use of shadow puppets and sounds, and are unable to see anything else. Thus, the prisoners believe that reality is simply that which they were taught within the cave and in the darkness. But then one prisoner finally escapes out of the cave, and once he’s out in the world, and adjusts to the light, he realizes that what he learned in the cave wasn’t true. So then he enthusiastically returns to the cave to share with others what he found in the world, desiring to bring them out into the journey he went on in the light. But this freed prisoner isn’t taken back well since he struggles to adjust his eyes back to the darkness, so the prisoners think he’s been brainwashed, and turn their backs against him.
Now a lot of philosophical theories came out of this allegory, but when I heard it, what came to mind was how the Bible also uses darkness & light symbolically. Today, I wanted to share it as I talk about how it ties in with what things I felt God placed on my heart about Matthew 4:12-17.
The juxtaposition of light & darkness as a theme in the Bible always stands out to me with great importance. I think it’s because of my own testimony with experiencing darkness in the form of both my sin and also my struggle with depression. “Darkness” in the Bible is often used symbolically for sin, alluding to death, ignorance or deceit, while “Light” is used as the remedy, cutting into the darkness. “Light” is symbolically used for Jesus–God Himself, often alluding to life, Truth, and His righteousness. Which brings us to a verse that stuck out to me from our passage this week:
“‘..the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.””Matthew 4:16 (prophecy from Isaiah 9:2)
As we come across this prophecy being restated in Matthew 4:12-17, we are reminded that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah–proving that He is our Messiah, our Savior King. In this verse, we are the people who were “dwelling in darkness” and “those dwelling in the region and shadow of death. In relation to the question of what Scripture tells us about humanity, which we went over in our devotional from last week (“What the Temptation of Jesus Tells Me About Humanity & Myself“), I am reminded here that humanity without Christ dwells in darkness. Before knowing Jesus, our lives were in darkness and our perspectives influenced by lies of the world. We lived out of our sinful nature and apart from God. Similar to the prisoners within the cave, our “reality” was formed based on the sinful darkness we lived in. But Jesus, our “great Light”, brings us out of that darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Because of Jesus, we know real Truth and can have a reconciled relationship with God! What a blessing!
Sometimes I think it’s easy to take for granted what Jesus has done in our lives if we didn’t experience something “crazy” like going blind and then being able to see (like Paul in the Bible). But when I think of the prisoners in the Allegory of the Cave and what it must have been like to finally experience light, like the escaped free prisoner, I realize that his reaction is similar to what we ought to experience: an awe & love for life in the Light, and a desire to have others come into the Light as well.
This leads me to what Jesus’ first act of ministry was, after being baptized, affirmed as the Son of God, and after fasting and being tempted in the Wilderness. Verse 17 says that Jesus “began to preach, saying ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” I think we can take that both as Jesus reminding us personally to turn away from our sins and draw near to Him, and also as an example to follow as His disciples as we go forth and make more disciples.
How are we living our lives now that a Light has dawned upon us?
My reflection questions this week are directed towards helping us evaluate how we are living our lives in response to being exposed to the Light of the World, our lives in Christ. I hope that they help you think deeply upon your walk with the Lord and encourage you to draw nearer to Him. I also hope our Sunday Worship Service online (“Come Follow Me – Matthew 4:12-17“) with our guest speaker, Bob Hill, gave you some exhortation for this week!
- Have you repented and reconciled your relationship with God through Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you haven’t, and want to know more about this, we invite you to contact us and talk with one of our Elders or staff.
- Are you living a life that demonstrates a love for Jesus and the new life He has given? How has life with Christ changed your life? In what ways? And if not, pray and see if God may be convicting you of something that needs to change. (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
- Do you find yourself still tempted to live in sin or currently living in sin? Take time to confess to the Lord and to repent, for He is faithful to forgive and give us strength to overcome. (1 John 1:9)
- Think about those you around you who are living in darkness, not knowing the Gospel. Take time to pray for them and pray about how God may be calling you to witness to them in word or deed.
Hungry for more?
We encourage you to feast on the word of God. If you’ve got some resources on your bookshelf, dig in! If you’re looking for more translations, resources, and devotional guides, try any of the following links or search for more online.
Create an atmosphere to encounter God
During this historical time, we’ve been collecting songs along the way. You can find the playlists on SGPC’s Spotify profile (requires a free Spotify account). Listen to old favorites and discover new songs of the season! Spring off into some of the suggestions generated by Spotify or search for your own go-to songs. These also work well as background music for studying scripture (or anything else).